Saturday, February 17, 2007

Tracking BMTC Buses - Google maps mashup anybody?

Today's Times of India, Bangalore Edition, had a piece about being able to track the location of BMTC (Bangalore city's public transport service) buses using the cellphone text message service. From the article:

Now, all you have to do is SMS to find out the location of the bus. This facility, for now, has been provided to only the Volvo bus commuters.

The procedure is simple - if you're in Koramangala, and want to go to Electronics City, send an SMS message to 9945634666 reading 'Yi V356C U'. (where Yi stands for 'Yelli Iddira?', 'V365C' is the route number, 'U' stands for 'up'). Buses heading out of the 'starting station' are designated to as 'up' and buses heading towards the starting station are designated as 'down'.

Within a minute, you'll receive a reply stating 'Singasandra; Bangalore Dairy; Maharani's College', meaning there are three buses on this route currently, each of them approaching the stops listed, after having left the previous stops.

This BMTC new facility uses on-line GPS data.

It's great to know that BMTC has started tracking buses using GPS data. This gave me an idea for a new Google Maps mashup: Use BMTC's GPS data to create a constantly updated map of Bangalore, which shows the position of BMTC buses a user searches for. Buses travelling up and down can be differentiated by color codes. The user should have the option of being able to search for one, more or all buses for which BMTC has GPS data.

This could be a very useful service, and a great idea for an engineering student project. The Google maps API is easily available. It's just a matter of tying that up with real-time GPS data from BMTC's systems.

Any engineering students in Bangalore up for the challenge?